“Live Below the Line” Begins April 27

Gabe Kennedy, Concern Worldwide Ambassador and winner of Season 3 of ABC's "The Taste," holds a a jar of curry paste at a luxury supermarket in the capital, Port au Prince. The curry cost roughly the same amount of money as the produce he purchased as a local market in Mirebalais in central Haiti, a stark juxtaposition of wealth in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The ingredients were used for a demonstration with Concern staff and tourism program participants on making coconut chicken curry. (Photo: Crystal Wells/Concern Worldwide)

By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
April 24, 2015

UPDATE: Concern has published the first in a multi-part series documenting Gabe Kennedy’s experience in Haiti, where he experienced first-hand the effects and hardship of living below the line of extreme poverty. Watch below.

Gabe Kennedy, celebrity chef and environmental advocate, is heading a new Concern Worldwide campaign to raise awareness for poverty and to fight against its evils. The campaign, Live Below the Line, challenges participants and donors to attempt to eat and drink for just $1.50 each day for the five days spanning April 27 to May 1.

Of the 7.1 billion people inhabiting this planet, 1.2 billion people live below the line of extreme poverty. That means that they survive on less than $1.50 worth of food and water from day to day, while all of their other expenses must also come from this meager sum. These numbers are nearly incomprehensible, and the idea of surviving on less than what many Americans are accustomed to paying for a small cup of cheap coffee, is an notion that many have never even considered, let alone considered attempting to do themselves.

According to their website, Live Below the Line is “more than about hunger: it’s about lack of choice and opportunity.” They rightly challenge potential critics, who might argue that $1.50 has a lot of purchasing power in most developing countries, by noting that the World Bank’s designation of the international Extreme Poverty Line as living on less than $1.50 a day is “calculated using Purchasing Power Parity – which works out how much you would have to live on each day if you were living in extreme poverty in the United States.”

Kennedy boasts a long list of impressive credentials, but is perhaps best known for being nominated America’s best undiscovered chef by ABC’s cooking show The Taste. He is also surely known, for those steeped in foodie culture at least, for currently holding the position of executive chef at Bon Appetit.

Though Gabe Kennedy was not a household name for most Americans before he proved his talents on primetime TV, it was hardly fair to call him “undiscovered” before his televised success. Kennedy worked for many prestigious restaurants, chefs, celebrities, athletes and dignitaries, not the least of which included the Clinton family, for whom he was a private chef.

Born in Colorado into what has been called “a family of healers,” Kennedy is now an Ambassador for Concern Worldwide, and is promoting his recent travels to the poorest regions of Haiti, where many people live below the line of extreme poverty, and where Kennedy learned to cook and eat like the Haitians he met.

Kennedy’s advocacy in partnership with Concern Worldwide and Live Below the Line are recent expressions of his continual insistence that choices we make in obtaining our food can either exploit or enrich the lives of those who are involved in getting it from the ground and into our bodies. Before joining forces with Concern Worldwide, Kennedy, in an interview with 303 Magazine, implores us to understand the origin of our food.

“Understand where it has been and what it has touched and the relationship that people have had with it. Because at the end of the day you’re buying something and you’re either supporting a system that is going to elevate and make the world a better place or that maybe disenfranchised people along the way.”

Such enjoinders are indicative of Kennedy’s food philosophy, and his activism with Concern Worldwide shows that he is giving the world more than just ambrosial eats, for he also promulgates formidable food for thought. ♦

2 Responses to ““Live Below the Line” Begins April 27”

  1. Niki says:

    Brilliant! I’m living below the line in the UK (£1 a day) for The Hunger Project -their programmes empower communities to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.

  2. I’ve been a longtime supporter and volunteer with Concern and also visited Haiti with the organisation. I tried out for the Taste last summer. Although I didn’t make it, I’m very pleased that the winner of Season 3 is using his celebrity and culinary talents to support Concern and draw attention to hunger.

    Concern is now responding to this weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal.

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